Jun 2, 2008
Reading time
3 minutes
Download the article
Click here to print
Text size
aA+ aA-

Asian designers mourn Yves Saint Laurent

Jun 2, 2008

TOKYO, June 2, 2008 (AFP) - Asian designers on Monday paid tribute to Yves Saint Laurent, saying that the French legend revolutionised fashion by foreseeing the rise of working women -- and making their outfits classy.

French designer Yves Saint-Laurent, who died Sunday aged 71, is pictured taking a bow next to a model wearing a signature trouser suit in March 1993 - Photo : AFP

Saint Laurent, whose slinky tuxedo suits and safari jackets became a symbol of women's liberation in the 1960s, died late Sunday aged 71 in Paris after a long illness.

Hanae Mori, one of Japan's most prominent designers and the only Asian woman to ever be accepted as a full-fledged member of France's exclusive haute couture federation, called Saint Laurent's death "a shock".

"He was an exemplary person," Mori, who opened her own Paris showroom in the 1970s, told AFP.

"The reason why I wear so many trousers is thanks to Yves Saint Laurent," she said, referring to the emblematic tuxedo-style suit that he launched in 1966, pioneering the androgynous look for women.

"Even before anybody else, he understood what the new woman was. He designed trousers for working women that were very comfortable, yet that were at the same time sophisticated. It was very functional yet elegant," Mori said.

"He left the pantsuit open to interpretation. By combining it with a silk blouse or a print shirt, he could make a male style look feminine. I loved it," she said, adding that she still owns many YSL suits.

Mori, who retired in 2004, said she occasionally met with Saint Laurent during her years in Paris.

"He would seldom appear at haute couture gatherings. And when he did, he was always surrounded by people. But even then, he was always very calm and quiet," she said.

Even designers who did not particularly care for his avant-garde style called him a visionary for women who enjoyed greater economic freedom, providing for both their functional and fashion needs.

"When the pantsuit look was first launched, I didn't -- and I still don't -- like it because I thought it hid the woman's legs, which I believe are some of her sexiest assets," said Japanese designer Jun Ashida.

"But he had a penetrating eye for the working woman. He accurately predicted the times and he moved the world. He is the emperor of the fashion world," he told AFP.

For Ashida, who is known for his soft, feminine style, Saint Laurent "did not have a bias (towards one look) like I did myself."

"Instead he foresaw what everybody would wear," he said.

Saint Laurent's legendary styles continue to influence contemporary fashion, even in emerging economies where established designers are just taking off.

"The loss of Yves Saint Laurent is a big loss to the global fashion industry. His work has inspired designers worldwide, including many Thai designers," said veteran Thai designer Pakamom Taveesoay.

"His work is one of the world-class fashion brands that influence my work. Several of my customers prefer his style -- unique and classy -- and I applied that to my work," she told AFP.

Australia's Collette Dinnigan, known for her slinky cocktail dresses worn by Hollywood A-listers like Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz, called Saint Laurent "a genius."

His death was "such a tragedy... because he was one of the iconic designers that was left in the world," she told national news agency AAP.by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura

Copyright © 2023 AFP. All rights reserved. All information displayed in this section (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the contents of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presses.